Portrait of Alice Rothchild by Robert Shetterly, from the Americans Who Tell The Truth collection, 2018.
Vienna lawyer tells human rights activist, “Please tell Dr. Rothchild and her friends not to come to our synagogue. These people are not welcome here.”

By Alice Rothchild | Mondoweiss | Oct 22, 2018

When I see oppression and injustice and inhumanity, I am compelled to call it out and I will advocate whatever nonviolent means of resistance I have at my disposal. Ironically, my voice is often welcomed in churches and mosques. I hope someday to be welcomed in synagogues too. It would be nice to come home.

The email was concerning; it arrived in my personal inbox and that of Just World Books. And in the emails to Robert Shetterly (who painted my portrait as part of his Americans Who Tell the Truth project), and to an activist in the Boston area who had organized a presentation for me. The author stated he was, “the only Jewish criminal attorney at law in Vienna and member of the Executive board of Austria’s oldest, main and central synagogue, the famous Vienna “‘Stadttempel.’” He described the local Jewish community as small but wealthy and flourishing. He ended the first paragraph with: “But as the only child of Holocaust survivors I do not forget our history.”

The attorney expressed concern that my books and “the far left“ Jewish Voice for Peace, of which I am a member, are advocating for the boycott of Israel and that, “Boycott is a form of violence.” He noted that since January 2018 BDS supporters have been banned from entering Israel.

Continue reading “Shunned”

The suffocation of democracy

German President Paul von Hindenburg and Chancellor Adolf Hitler on their way to a youth rally at the Lustgarten, Berlin, May 1933. (photo: Culture Club/Getty Images)
Trump is not Hitler and Trumpism is not Nazism, but regardless of how the Trump presidency concludes, this is a story unlikely to have a happy ending.

By Christopher Browning | The New York Review of Books | Oct 25, 2018

A highly politicized judiciary will remain, in which close Supreme Court decisions will be viewed by many as of dubious legitimacy, and future judicial appointments will be fiercely contested. The racial division, cultural conflict, and political polarization Trump has encouraged and intensified will be difficult to heal. Gerrymandering, voter suppression, and uncontrolled campaign spending will continue to result in elections skewed in an unrepresentative and undemocratic direction. Growing income disparity will be extremely difficult to halt, much less reverse.

As a historian specializing in the Holocaust, Nazi Germany, and Europe in the era of the world wars, I have been repeatedly asked about the degree to which the current situation in the United States resembles the interwar period and the rise of fascism in Europe. I would note several troubling similarities and one important but equally troubling difference.

In the 1920s, the US pursued isolationism in foreign policy and rejected participation in international organizations like the League of Nations. America First was America alone, except for financial agreements like the Dawes and Young Plans aimed at ensuring that our “free-loading” former allies could pay back their war loans. At the same time, high tariffs crippled international trade, making the repayment of those loans especially difficult. The country witnessed an increase in income disparity and a concentration of wealth at the top, and both Congress and the courts eschewed regulations to protect against the self-inflicted calamities of free enterprise run amok. The government also adopted a highly restrictionist immigration policy aimed at preserving the hegemony of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants against an influx of Catholic and Jewish immigrants. (Various measures barring Asian immigration had already been implemented between 1882 and 1917.) These policies left the country unable to respond constructively to either the Great Depression or the rise of fascism, the growing threat to peace, and the refugee crisis of the 1930s.

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Biggest Donor in US politics brings an “Israel First” agenda to Washington

US billionaire Sheldon Adelson speaks during a press conference for the opening of Parisian Macao in Macau, Sep 13, 2016. (photo: Kin Cheung | AP)
Sheldon Adelson is making massive expenditures in federal elections because he believes that Republican control of the House and the Senate is vital to maintaining right-wing and pro-Zionist policies.

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | Sep 28, 2018

For less than $150 million — pocket change for such a plutocrat — Adelson has effectively bought the presidency and Congress.

According to publicly available campaign finance data, Sheldon Adelson – the conservative, Zionist, casino billionaire –is now the biggest spender on federal elections in all of American politics. Adelson, who was the top donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Republican Party in 2016, has cemented his role as the top political donor in the country after giving $55 million in recent months to Republicans in an effort to help the party keep its majority in both houses of Congress.

Adelson’s willingness to help the GOP stay in power is likely born out of his desire to protect the massive investment he placed in the party last election cycle. In 2016, the Republican mega-donor gave heavily to the Trump campaign and Republicans, donating $35 million to the former and $55 million to the top two Republican Super PACs — the Congressional Leadership Fund and the Senate Leadership Fund — during that election cycle.

Adelson’s decision to again donate tens of millions of dollars to Republican efforts to stay in power is a direct consequence of how successfully Adelson has been able to influence U.S. policy since Trump and the GOP rode to victory in the last election cycle.

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Now Israel has a race law

Olivier Fitoussi / Haaretz)
Seventy years of nationalism and racism toward the victims is now receiving legal justification.

By Gideon Levy | Haaretz | Sep 21, 2018

From now on, two types of blood exist in Israel: Jewish blood and non-Jewish blood, on the law books as well. The price of these two types of blood is also different. Jewish blood is priceless, it must be protected in every possible way. Non-Jewish blood is terrifyingly cheap, it can be shed like water.

Even if it had until the end of time, Israel and the Jewish nation will never be able to compensate the Palestinian nation for all the harm they have done to it. Not for the material harm nor the intellectual harm, the physical harm nor the spiritual harm. Not for the plunder of their land and property, nor for their trodden freedom and dignity. Not for the killing and bereavement, nor for the people who were injured and disabled, their lives irrevocably ruined. Not for the hundreds of thousands of innocents who were tortured and imprisoned, nor for the generations who were denied a fair opportunity for a normal life.

There is nothing like Yom Kippur to express this. Israel has of course never even considered entering a process of compensation, reparation and taking responsibility. Nothing can be expected from an occupier that calls itself the victim, that blames everyone but itself for every injustice that it does. But even this isn’t enough for it.

Continue reading “Now Israel has a race law”

How peace became a dirty word in the Middle East

PLO leader Yasser Arafat, US President Bill Clinton, and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzahk Rabin at the White House in Washington, DC, Sep 13, 1993. (photo: J. David Ake / AFP / Getty Images)
With the endless march of settlements and Israel’s continued impunity, a solution to the Israel-Palestine nightmare may seem impossible.

By Sandy Tolan | Counterpunch | Sep 14, 2018

[Oslo should be considered] an instrument of Palestinian surrender . . . . Clearly the PLO has transformed itself from a national liberation movement into a kind of small-town government. . . . What Israel has gotten is official Palestinian consent to continued occupation.
— Edward Said, professor of comparative literature at Columbia University

When I first traveled to Israel-Palestine in 1994, during the heady early days of the Oslo peace process, I was expecting to see more of the joyful celebrations I’d watched on television at home. The emotional welcoming of Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat back to Palestine. The massive demonstrations for peace on the streets of Tel Aviv. The spontaneous moment when Palestinians placed carnations in the gun barrels of departing Israeli soldiers. And though the early euphoria had already begun to ebb, clearly there was still hope.

It was the era of dialogue. Many Palestinians stood witness to Israeli trauma rooted in the Holocaust. Groups of Israelis began to understand the Nakba, or Catastrophe, when 750,000 Palestinians fled or were driven out of their homes during the creation of Israel in 1948. In the wake of the Oslo Declaration of Principles, signed on September 13, 1993 — a quarter of a century ago today — polls showed that large majorities of Israelis and Palestinians supported the agreement. Israelis, weary of a six-year Palestinian intifada, wanted Oslo to lead to lasting peace; Palestinians believed it would result in the creation of a free nation of their own, side by side with Israel.

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Cuts in US jeopardize healthcare services to children

As many as 500 children are in jeopardy of losing services if the funding shortfall is not addressed.

By | Sep 2018

I am very much concerned and afraid that cutting off all American assistance, mostly in humanitarian aid, has hobbled the aid agencies that receive the funds, and more consequently, crippled the lives of Palestinians who continue to live in dire need and have fewer employment prospects now more than ever. This is unfair and beneath our compassion.
— Archbishop Suheil Dawani

Since the announcement in September that the US Government planned to cut $200 million in aid to UNRWA, the United Nations’ agency dedicated to providing humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees, and the news the following week of $25 million in cuts in direct aid to support hospitals affiliated with the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, we have been tracking the implications of those cuts on the institutions of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, particularly Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza City and the Princess Basma Center for Disabled Children in East Jerusalem.

While in recent weeks many European Union countries, as well as Japan, China, and Qatar, among others, have stepped up by pledging to address the shortfall, the impacts of the cuts could have devastating impacts on all sectors of society. Many thousands of vulnerable Palestinians, including women and children — particularly those in Gaza — are already experiencing the effects of these sweeping cuts. . . .

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Occupied childhood: A letter from Ahed Tamimi

Ahed Tamimi, Oct 2018. (photo: Nina Wessel | Vogue Arabia)
In a heartfelt letter, 17-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi tells the story of her arrest and eight months in an Israeli prison — and the struggles she faces as a symbol of resistance.

By Ahed Tamimi | Vogue Arabia | Oct 4, 2018

I have been involved in demonstrations and confrontations with the Israeli army since I was a child. Many criticize that, but why not criticize the army who places itself in front of children? Under the occupation, everything is a crime. People should not accuse us; it is the occupation that is wrong.

I am a child of the Israeli occupation. It has always been there. My first real memory is of my father’s arrest in 2004 and visiting him in prison. At the time, I was three years old; he has since been arrested on two further occasions. Last year, when I was 16, I was arrested too, during a nighttime raid, for slapping a soldier who was standing in our yard. I was sentenced to eight months in an Israeli prison.

Life behind bars was very hard. The guards woke us at 5:30 am for the count and at 8:00 am they returned to search the cells. Our doors opened at 10:30 am, when we were let out for breakfast. Afterward, we would go to the other rooms, where I could talk to my fellow inmates. There were around 25 of us. We were not allowed outside and walked around in a big hall for exercise. Along with the other girls, I tried to make study groups, but the prison administration did not encourage this and broke up the class. Instead, we read books, and I managed to pass my final exams in prison. Only my immediate family was allowed to visit me, and that was limited to 45 minutes through a glass barrier every two months.

Continue reading “Occupied childhood: A letter from Ahed Tamimi”

In funding Canary Mission, Jewish federation betrayed us

In secretly using funds meant for the betterment of the Jewish community to support a hate group like Canary Mission, the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco has betrayed our trust, and made us all complicit in this racist and McCarthyite censorship campaign.

By Rebecca Pierce | Forward | Oct 3, 2018

It is time for all mainstream Jewish groups to stop supporting Canary Mission, both financially and rhetorically. It’s time for them to redirect their resources towards efforts that atone for . . . the stunning betrayal of the Jewish communities they purport to represent.

he revelation that mainstream Jewish organizations like the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco have been secretly funding Canary Mission, a widely-condemned online blacklist of students and professionals critical of Israel, pulls back the curtain on a stunning abuse of the trust and esteem placed on these groups by the Jewish communities they purport to represent.

It also speaks to a deep crisis within the US Jewish community, where unflinching support for even the worst acts of the Israeli government and its supporters from some of the community’s most mainstream organizations comes at the cost of Jewish anti-racist values and those who uphold them.

As a Jew of Color from the San Francisco Bay Area who is both active in my community and publicly critical of Israel, I’ve received everything from racist harassment to rape threats following targeting by Canary Mission.

For me, the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco’s funding of this racist blacklist represents a deep and personal betrayal.

Continue reading “In funding Canary Mission, Jewish federation betrayed us”

Jewish federation will no longer fund Canary Mission

(graphic: Nikki Casey / Forward)
Since the Forward first reported on the grant supporting Canary Mission, left-wing Jewish groups have criticized the San Francisco federation and the Diller Foundation.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis | Forward | Oct 3, 2018

‘Respected Jewish communal funders should not be supporting an organization whose entire purpose is to intimidate and harass pro-Palestinian students. As Hillel leaders have pointed out, Canary Mission’s tactics do not help Israel or Jewish students, but only backfire and reinforce the belief that Israel and pro-Israel students cannot tolerate dissent.’
— Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of the rabbinic human rights group T’ruah

The Jewish federation that the Forward exposed Wednesday as bankrolling the online blacklist Canary Mission now says it will no longer support the site.

In a statement, the Jewish Community Federation of San Fransisco acknowledged that the Helen Diller Family Foundation, which it controls, made a $100,000 grant in 2016 to support the blacklist site, which targets students who criticize Israel.

Canary Mission has posted more than a thousand political dossiers on undergraduates. The dossiers are intended to hurt students’ job prospects, and have been used in interrogations by Israeli border officials.

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